Letting Go: A Buddhist Love Story.

Via Chris Lemig
on Jul 15, 2012
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If you love somebody, set them free.

I don’t know if Sting had a situation like mine in mind when he wrote that, but it’s been ringing in my head all morning.

When I came out five years ago, relationship wasn’t on my mind at all. I had a few flings but once I got deeper into both Buddhism and writing, I just didn’t feel the need to be with anyone. I wasn’t being pretentious or fearful of commitment or anything like that. It was just that, for the first time in my life, I was happy and content with simply being me.

And I still am.

So when I met Miguel over here in India a few months ago, I wasn’t looking for a relationship. But when we talked that first time outside of Tibetan grammar class and discovered that we were both really, really into Buddhism, (Miguel was already planning to attend a three-year retreat in early 2013), we were both pretty smitten.

Here’s the thing, meeting a compatible partner is tough enough. Add the criteria of being gay, Tibetan Buddhist, sobriety minded and setting up your life to go into the traditional three-year retreat, and the pool of available men shrinks to about the size of a tea-cup. So when you find someone who fits that list, you have no choice but to stop and take a closer look.

After a few dates we only confirmed what we knew from the get-go. We really liked each other. And what’s more, we agreed that if we were going to go any further, there would be only one rule: that we would support each other in our practice. No matter what.

Unfortunately, I had to leave for the States after only three weeks. Visa stuff. So I made the call: I would just have to come back to India right away. The odds were against us but what the heck. This kind of thing almost never happens, right?

For two months we held our courtship by phone. About three weeks into it, Miguel found out that his three-year retreat was being cancelled. He was pretty heart-broken after spending years preparing himself, but he got over it quickly and began to search for another place to do it.

A few weeks ago, he found one. In America. Long after I had already bought my ticket back to India. And in order to make all the preparations to attend, he would have to leave earlier than expected…as in yesterday.

But I was happy for him and still am. I’m glad that the promise that we made to support each other wasn’t just words. After all, if it was me going into the retreat, how would I want him to react?

So yesterday morning, after twelve wonderful days with him, I watched him get into a taxi to Delhi. It was raining. I cried. No, not just cried. I full-on sobbed and the ache was heavy in my heart and lungs.

But it didn’t hurt like the love songs I used to like so much. It wasn’t some tragic romance coming to an unfair or undeserved end. You see, along with the pain and the sadness I felt light, too. I mean, look at my baby! How wonderful that someone would not only aspire to make such a huge commitment, but to actually put his foot forward and take the plunge.

As they say in Tibetan: Emaho! Amazing!

No. To do anything but let him go, freely and joyfully, with great wishes that he succeed, would only be the worst kind of selfishness.

So I let him go. And by letting go, I remembered the teachings. All things are impermanent, including relationships. Even the ones that might just be perfect.

To be continued…


Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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About Chris Lemig

Chris Lemig isn't afraid of the dark. He dreams in full color and lives out loud. Sometimes, when he sees that your heart is broken, his heart breaks, too. But then he puts all the pieces back together and lets out a great, guffawing laugh that shakes the world to its bones. He loves you even though he's never met you and he wants you to know that you are brighter than the brightest guiding star. He is the author of The Narrow Way: A Memoir of Coming Out, Getting Clean and Finding Buddha.


21 Responses to “Letting Go: A Buddhist Love Story.”

  1. Hvbb says:




    The rules and guidelines in buddhism are very well defined and are similar to those in Hinduism.

    Marriage itself is considered a sacred vow, not to be broken by EITHER PARTY.

    Westerners attempt to feel they marginally understand a single Buddhist concept and then attempt to over apply it to EVERYTHING

    Boomeritis Buddhism

    Impermanance, or “anicca”, was NEVER meant to apply to relationships, and the use of it toward relationships is a manipulation to absolve a party of their own guilt.

    Guess what?

    If they’re wrong, they NEED to experience that guilt.

    It’s part of the “lesson”.

    Stop giving others the easy out.

    THIS is what kills empathy and creates spiritual narcissism.

  2. kara says:

    Thank you so much for this. I’m currently in a very similar situation and this article helped me a lot. Best of luck to you and Miguel both.

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  4. Morgan says:

    Ahhhh. Thank you. I am currently beginning my journey towards the Buddhist faith, and while, I am not letting a particular person go – I am letting go of the thought of living happily ever after and being content and happy with ME…love will hopefully find a way to come in. If not, then that isn't my path. This was inspriring and I echo what was said before regarding courage. We never fully understand why things transpire as they do, but believing and letting go (in every aspect) will help us find enlightenment. :)

  5. HVBB says:

    These things that cause dukkha are to which impermance applies.

    Where, within this, does it mention people and thier impermance within relationships?

    I could also list the Sallekha Sutta, if you wish.

    There is NOWHERE within the teachings that the buddha states that our relationships with others is impermanent.

    In all actuality, it teaches the exact opposite.

    The only impermance is life, which has its counterpart: death.

    It is amazing the strains we will go through in attempts to excuse our irresponsibility toward others, in defense of "i'll do what I want!!!" logic and practice.

    Absolutely amazing.

    I could just as easily say your misunderstanding of the dharma is "short sighted" and "unfounded"

    Please learn the dharma and the intention of the suttas before commenting upon them.

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